BENTONVILLE – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. unveiled a new initative to save diabetes patients in the U.S. up to $60 million annually with the retail giant’s exclusive ReliOn brand of diabetes products, according to a release Tuesday (Juy 24).
There are about 26 million diabetics in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Wal-Mart says it now offers better pricing on the ReliOn Prime meter and blood sugar test strips, absolute essentials for diabetics managing their disease. The ReliOn products are a private-label initative between Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its supplier base.
Dr. John Agwunobi, president of Walmart U.S. Health and Wellness, noted in the release that managing the disease can be a “terrible financial burden” for some.
“We’ve worked closely with our suppliers and found a way to significantly reduce the cost of diabetes products for all of our customers, whether they have insurance or not, so they can better manage their disease,” Agwunobi stated in the release.
The retailer says it has reduced prices on gloves, lancets, syringes and insulin.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people who take insulin to treat their diabetes should test their blood glucose levels a minimum of three times per day to appropriately manage the disease, and many people on oral medications also test their blood glucose, which can result in expensive out-of-pocket costs.
Wal-Mart estimates people with diabetes spend as much as $1,000 each year on blood glucose monitoring test strips alone, regardless of whether they have insurance. The retailer claims that switching to the private label can render substantial savings over the course of a year.
Critics such as small independent pharmacists say encumbering federal laws largely supported by lobbying efforts have rendered small shops unable to offer certain diabetic supplies.
Jim Graham, a pharmacist and owner of Cornerstone Pharmacy in Bella Vista said last month, “I can’t even sell blood glucose strips in my pharmacy because the federal government chose to classify them as ‘durable medical equipment’. In order to sell $1 strips I have to purchase a $60,000 bond required by the federal government, which now gets in the way of my servicing my customers.”